Medvedev: Time running out for missile shield talks

Russia could be "forced to respond" to the potential threat of NATO missile defense

From RIA Novosti:  Russia is still open for dialogue on a planned U.S. missile shield in Europe, but opportunities for discussion are decreasing as the system moves closer to becoming a reality, President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Friday.

“The door is not closed for talks on missile defense,” Medvedev said at a Euro-Atlantic security forum in Moscow. “We still have time, but it is running out. . . .”

And on Friday, Medvedev said the missile shield issue was a “test” for future Russia-NATO cooperation. He also gave voice to growing Kremlin exasperation over a lack of progress in talks on the shield.

"Why should we believe that this new European missile defense is not targeted against us?" Medvedev said. "They keep telling us ‘this system is for you’, but how should we use it?"

Medvedev, who steps down in early May after four years in the Kremlin, also warned that Russia could be "forced to respond" to the potential threat. His successor, Vladimir Putin, is expected to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a Chicago G8 summit in mid-May. . . .

Medvedev’s comments come just days after his announcement that Russia was preparing a host of countermeasures to tackle NATO missile defense, including forward deployments of tactical nuclear missiles in its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. . . .

Hopes of a breakthrough in talks were raised after reports suggested the United States could supply Russia with technical details of the SM-3 interceptor rocket that NATO plans to install at the heart of its system.

But a high-ranking U.S. Department of State official told RIA Novosti on Thursday that “no classified missile defense information was provided to Russia.” A report by Russia’s Kommersant newspaper said information had been handed over, but that Russian military specialists had described it as “useless. . . .”

And he also hit out at what he said were popular conceptions that non-NATO states were “international losers.”

 “Those who do not participate in NATO are often seen as either hidden enemies or international losers. This is bad,” Medvedev said.  (photo: Reuters)

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